As someone who has played FIFA Ultimate Team for almost a decade now, I was pretty downbeat when about two months into FIFA 21, I completely stopped playing the mode. The gameplay, the grinding, the constant lure of buying FIFA points and breaking my “no microtransactions” oath, and the general FUT formula, all got too much. I probably played a total of 25 games of Ultimate Team that year and when I hung up my boots, I thought I was done with the game mode for good.
Then, FIFA 22 rolled around. At first, things seemed rosy. FIFA 22’s gameplay felt much more refined and far less uncontrollable than the previous game’s, and a plentiful stream of decent value SBCs (plus a wee bit of early pack luck – thanks, Alphonso Davies) meant I had some coin to spend. Things were going well with my original, Brazilian-based team, spearheaded by my big investment, Ones to Watch Anderson Talisca.
However, about six weeks in, the results began to go against me. The game started to feel like a chore again. I couldn’t see a financially-viable way to upgrade a team that had hit its ceiling. The déjà vu hit me: oh no, here we go again.
As a last chance saloon, I changed up my squad. Through SBC packs I’d racked up a decent amount of Bundesliga players, so I quickly put together a rag-tag squad of players from Germany’s top tier. This included Bayern Munich’s Leroy Sané, who I thought would be a great pacey addition on the right. Turns out, he was much more than that.
Want to win a header? Give it to Leroy. Want to outpace a full-back and whip in a demon of a cross? Give it to Leroy. Want a pretty much guaranteed goal by cutting in and hitting a sweet finesse shot with a left boot made of gold? Give it to Leroy.
Thanks to the frankly ridiculous brilliance of Leroy Sané – and the rather shameless abuse of that killer left foot – I began to feel that spark come back. I was climbing the Division Rivals ranks, I was raking in coins, I was loving having a talismanic member of the team that was single-handedly making my club tick. Without this dazzling German, I think we would have seen a repeat of FIFA 21, and I would have once again ditched Ultimate Team.
To give you a sense of both how much I value Sané’s contribution and how completely busted he still is, he remains on the team sheet in my heavily-upgraded Bundesliga side today. Despite being the lowest-rated player in the squad, surrounded by special cards and a goal-hungry Erling Haaland, Sané still remains the most important player to my Ultimate Team club.
While every year we decry standard gold cards that are way too overpowered in FUT – Sané joins the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Timo Werner in this year’s boy band of controller-breaking bastards – this particular one helped rekindle my enjoyment of Ultimate Team.
While I’m not an play-eight-hours-a-day, grind-FUT-Champions-every-weekend kinda guy, I’m definitely more active on Ultimate Team in FIFA 22 than I have been for probably the last two or three games – after last year’s experience, the sole objective was to see if I could withstand it until Christmas, so I’ve far exceeded myself there.
And while I love Haaland’s dependable finishing, Showdown Niklas Sule’s crunching tackles, and Rulebreaker Chirstopher Nkunku’s pinpoint passing, it’s those swooping, left-footed finesse shots from Sané that have defined my FIFA 22 Ultimate Team journey. He’s my FIFA 22 hero so far – and I can’t see that changing any time soon.